Old mortuary reclaimed for second life

The old mortuary (seen on the lot and in the picture below) and Winchester building were removed from the corner of Eagle and 3rd Street. A machineshop will now be built on the lot.
The old mortuary (seen on the lot and in the picture below) and Winchester building were removed from the corner of Eagle and 3rd Street. A machine shop will now be built on the lot.

by Christy Parrott

Crosscut Reclaimed has salvaged the old mortuary building, which stood next to the Winchester building on the corner of 3rd and Eagle. The mortuary was built in 1906 by Thomas J. Mitchell, who also owned the hardware store (housed in the Winchester building). Mitchell erected the mortuary and served as both mortician and coroner, because, according to Grand County Historical Association board member, Larry Gross,

“There wasn’t any other mortuary in town.”

The new property owners of the lot, who are replacing the Winchester building with a machinist shop, contacted Crosscut Reclaimed and asked if they’d like to give new life to the old building. Crosscut Reclaimed agreed: “Having the ability to rebuild a historical building is the pinnacle of what we do,” Jack Norton explains. “We’d rather see the building re-erected or reused,” he says. “It’d be a shame to just allow it to be bulldozed.”

In fact, Crosscut Reclaimed plans to keep the mortuary intact, using their master skills to painstakingly deconstruct the building. “You start from the top down. Roof boards and rafters, later we remove the rake walls and siding until only the skeleton remains,” Jack Norton laughs at the pun. “We’re taking it down very carefully,” Megan Norton assures.

Crosscut Reclaimed is retaining the building’s character, including the beautiful, locally harvested lodge-pole pine siding. “Over time, the sunbaked south side of the building has oxidized into a dark patina,” Megan Norton explains. The Nortons are finding treasures as they work side by side to preserve the mortuary building’s integrity, such as three old whiskey bottles distilled in 1905, and the shipping panel, repurposed as siding for the structure, with Mitchell’s name, which the Norton’s generously donated to the Grand County Historical Society.

Crosscut Reclaimed has upcycled old buildings before, at Grand River Ranch, for example. “It’s challenging. It takes a fair amount of engineering,” Megan Norton says. The age of the mortuary means nothing about the structure is up to current building codes, so Crosscut Reclaimed will likely drape the building over a sturdy frame or put the mortuary inside another building as an architectural accent. Crosscut Reclaimed’s upcycling to retain the mortuary is an important part of maintaining Kremmling’s history and appeal. “If it got bulldozed,” Jack Norton says, “It would break my heart.” Both Jack and Megan Norton hope the building will remain in Grand County. In so many towns and cities across the country, business development often leads to a once small town resembling a strip mall. Kremmling’s ability to retain their historical landmarks and buildings are a huge part of why our town won’t look like any other.

Crosscut Reclaimed is a local, Kremmling based business and can be reached at 970-485- 0603 as well as their website and social media page.